Africa: Evidence Must Guide Terrorism Prevention in Benin and Togo

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Since 2016, terrorism has become a serious threat in Benin and Togo. Violent extremist groups continue to carry out attacks close to the northern borders that these countries share with Burkina Faso and Niger or in their territories.

Examples include the 9 February 2020 attack on a Benin police station in Kérémou, in the commune of Banikoara, near the Burkina Faso border, and the kidnapping in May 2019 of two French tourists and their local guide from Benin’s Pendjari Park.

Among civil society and the media in both countries, the understanding of what causes and drives violent extremism in Benin and Togo is limited and shaped by preconceived ideas that aren’t based on evidence. Knowledge about those involved in terrorism – their objectives, strategies, and what motivates or leads individuals to associate with violent extremist groups – is also poor.

This partial understanding is reflected in the design of projects to prevent violent extremism that civil society and media actors are implementing in both countries. Many of these initiatives fail to address the root causes and factors that make both countries vulnerable to terrorism and don’t always build the resilience of local communities.

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